Dance Club, Lounge
Capitale photo
Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

Editorial Review

Something for every reveler
By Fritz Hahn
Friday, November 16, 2012

For all the talk about tightening budgets and gloomy economic forecasts, the weekend scene at Capitale lounge presents a very different picture. Servers weave through packed crowds while carrying Moet champagne or Patron tequila, and partiers splurge on celebrations as showy as the lit sparklers attached to each bottle.

Earlier this month, Capitale hosted a Sunday night after-party for Nas and Lauryn Hill's concert at Constitution Hall and the cost for the best table in the house was $4,000. Every spot was taken, and the bottles kept coming, at a cost of several hundred dollars each, as DJ Green Lantern dropped hip-hop hits from the booth on the other side of the velvet ropes.

After years of more neighborhood pubs and casual, lower-priced restaurants opening, the upscale lounge is edging back into the spotlight this fall.

Capitale took over the old kstreet Lounge building on Franklin Square in September, and it’s about to get some competition. The Shadow Room has plans to close temporarily for a massive renovation this month. The luxe bottle-service-focused club Huxley, run by a former manager from the Las Vegas nightclub Tao, will open this weekend on M Street south of Dupont Circle. Also on its way is the more intimate Heist, which will take Fly Lounge’s old space on Jefferson Place NW and feature some familiar names from that venture, including DJ Dirty Hands.

Capitale’s decor seems to take inspiration from an oddball English country house. Giant gold pillars lean from the parquet floor to the ceiling in the middle of the room, leather-bound books line the walls and pop-art paintings of actress Tuesday Weld and Scott Disick (Mr. Kourtney Kardashian) stare down at revelers. The booths for bottle service have deep red-leather cushions, but the seats can be removed so customers can dance on them.

Much of the buzz on Capitale has been about its price tags: Table reservations require the purchase of at least one bottle, which starts at $275 for vodka or tequila and goes up to $900 for champagne. But despite its costs, Capitale is less pretentious than some other D.C. nightclubs. Show up on Friday or Saturday night and there’s no cover charge, and the “relaxed” dress code means there are sneakers, jeans and even some baseball caps on the dance floor.

(Co-owner Tony Hudgins cautions that “this isn’t a sports bar” like his other spot, Public Bar, so think twice about how casual you look, guys.)

The DJs drop current hits and old-school hip-hop instead of hard house and club remixes as the crowd fills the large dance floor and dances on top of the VIP booths. It’s pretty obvious that the vast majority of people aren’t here to max out their Black Cards.

Admission may be free, but the cocktails aren’t.

Mixed drinks run about $7 to $10, and they vary from strong to watery depending on the bartender.

It remains to be seen whether other bottle-service lounges will have the same egalitarian tendencies as Capitale. For now, at least, it’s fairly easy to get into Shadow Room on a Friday or Saturday by using the club’s guest list.